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Early warning signs your company’s media network will fail

by David Spark on August 30, 2010

The most common failure for companies building and communicating a content network is to not put in the effort, or simply ignore one of the three development stages: production, distribution, or conversation. Here are some classic tell-tale warning signs (that I’ve actually heard from clients) said at development stage that often don’t get the attention they deserve:

This is an excerpt from a longer piece entitled “Be the VoiceSM” – Build Your Business by Becoming your Industry’s Thought Leader. Read online, or register here to download the free PDF:


“We want to create a podcast” Good initial effort, but singularly focused. Not thinking about creating a content network, but rather a content unit. Nine times out of ten the phrase, “We want to create a podcast” means we want to create one, maybe two audio interviews. A podcast is defined as a series and its purpose is to build an audience over time. Go beyond single audio program-type thinking by understanding the core of what you’re trying to accomplish over the long term.

“We want a whitepaper” Probably the most uninteresting, uninventive, and most expensive single form of content. Seeing the word “whitepaper” usually results in a giant “ho hum.” It is often the first content form that’s requested, and I often oblige, but it is costly.

“Everyone tells us we need to make a video” Those people who say you need a video haven’t seen your product and don’t realize it’s not visual. In general what they say is true though. Most people would rather watch a three minute video than read a three page article. But, not everything is visual, especially in technology. And the purpose of video is to tell a story with pictures. For example, one colleague sent three silly videos he made for a wireless technology product. I patiently sat through all three videos and still wasn’t sure what the product actually did. Instead, I went to the company’s Web site and after reading the first two sentences, which took me ten seconds, I knew what the product did. Think what medium can tell your story the best and in the quickest way. It may or may not be video.

“I don’t have time to write a blog” This is extremely common and if anyone does say this, DO NOT force them to write the blog. Blog writing is based on passion and if it’s dictated or micromanaged it will fail. Best to let the people who want to write, write. It’s possible the person who initially said they didn’t have time to write will see the success of the blog and will find time to write. For more advice on this, read the article “Blogging advice for people who ‘have no time to blog.'”

“I want to create something viral” Thankfully, I’m not hearing this phrase as much today as I use to hear it. But it’s about the equivalent of hearing fingernails against a chalkboard. A person who says this is looking for a single shot to get something for nothing with an audience you have no control over. They’re not committed on an ongoing basis to create content or engage in conversation.

“I want to increase word of mouth about our products and services” This person is skipping the need to create editorial content and wants to move directly into conversation. Problem is people need something to talk about. You can’t force word of mouth. You have to create an environment for it to happen. That means you create a forum for discussion and a catalyst, often content, that drives people to interact and respond.

This is an updated post from February, 2008.

CC photo credit to Hans Gerwitz.

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